We all know the old legend of a stork that comes to deliver the baby. Well, if it only where that easy. Nowadays many decisions and planning go into delivering a healthy happy baby. Many women love the idea of a home birth and have the baby naturally. Ones home is the ideal situation for those that want a natural, familiar surrounding, comfortable experience, cheaper financially.
The family can bring in a midwife, set up the home as desired, and ensure that their child enters the world precisely where they need to be. In some cases, this could be because previous bad experiences with hospital delivery rooms and long stays in maternity wards. Then there are those that see the benefits of a hospital birth and fear the health risks of staying at home.
Is there another option to explore? Yes, there is. Have your heard about a birthing center a new trend expanding in America?
In the end, the choice should always come down to a mother’s needs, unless medical conditions overrule a heart’s desire. Some women struggling to make that choice could benefit from learning more about birth centers. In this guide, we will look at the pros and cons of a home birth and hospital birth, in relation to the basic needs of a birthing environment. We will then discuss the potential of birth centers as a compromise between the two.
Five Basic Factors For The Ideal Birthing Environment
Before we discuss the pros and cons of the two more common situations, we need to understand the ideal birthing environment. Many mothers, midwives, and other experts believe that it comes down to five key factors. There is a sense of necessity here and something almost primitive. The idea is that these factors tap into maternal instincts for a safe environment and ease the process. They are as follows.
- Lighting– Where possible, the room should be as dark as possible, with no bright lights. This is more calming for the mothers.
- Sound– Some expectant mothers may laugh at this after footage and popular culture references to deliveries. But, a quiet environment can calm a mother, which may also lead to a quieter, more pleasant birth experience.
- Temperature-The right body temperature is also important if mothers are to feel at ease and experience a more natural birth. Partners and midwives can help control this in many ways.
- Privacy– This means the chance to go through the birthing experience without that sense that others are intruding. This should be a time between mothers, partners, midwives and new arrivals – no-one else.
- Safety– All of these factors come together to help create a situation where new mothers feel at ease. If mothers don’t feel safe, they will not be comfortable bringing their unborn child into that environment.
It is all about creating the perfect nest for a comfortable relaxing birth. Women comfortable with their birthing environment are less likely to experience pain and prolonged labor. The body needs to have the right hormones running through it for the best experience. Stress hormones really aren’t helpful. The body is more in tune with the natural process and welcomes the birth. That is why the familiarity of home is so important to many women when it comes to their birth experience.
A home birth often feels like the logical option when considering the factors above.
Source:For All Moms
The home is the place where mothers feel safe and where they will bring the child up. Many don’t see the need to bring them into the world in a hospital – not when they can start life in their new home. As some parents put it, hospitals are for the sick and dying, not the healthy or new life. Many feel that they should, therefore, remove birth far from this location.
It is easy to adapt the space of a home – either a living room or bedroom – to create the right atmosphere. Those that want to give birth in bed can close the drapes, block out distracting noises, and control the temperature of the room to their liking. There is privacy and security here that they can achieve nowhere else.
There is also no need to go it alone with the help of qualified midwifes and doulas. Furthermore, those that are insistent on a home birth can bring in a birthing pool into the living room. It is all about adaptation and finding the right solutions.
The problem with this approach is that there is a lack of medical support.
What happens in the case of an emergency in a home birth? This is where some mothers prefer to be at a hospital. These environments come with the peace of mind that there is specialist guidance and equipment in case of a problems. Deliveries can go wrong quickly if a baby tires or there is an issue with the dilation of the cervix.
Babies in distress need access to the right form of delivery, oxygen and other medical supplies. Mothers need monitors and possible transfusions after traumatic births. These are the worst case scenarios. Yet, there are situations where some women are more at risk than others of dealing with those complications.
Some therefore see hospital as the logical option compared to a risky, pain-relief free home birth. But, there are problems here too. The environment of many delivery rooms doesn’t match the five criteria mentioned above. Some may fail on a couple of elements, while others fail on all five.
- Darkness– hospitals are bright, sterile environments where mothers will struggle to create the dens they need. Delivery rooms may be darker than average, but there is still a lot of visual stimulation.
- Quiet– this can depend on how many other mothers are close by and the number of people and machines at the birth. There could be doctors giving instructions, monitors beeping and other distractions down the hall.
- Warmth– this will depend on thermostat and temperature control of the unit, it may be suitable, but won’t necessarily be under the control of the soon-to-be parents.
- Privacy– again this depends on the suite and the number of doctors and patients around. It isn’t going to be the same intimate experience as a home birth with a midwife.
- Security– this should be fine to an extent. There is the safety of knowing that your baby is in good hands as it enters the world. But, it isn’t the same kind of security as a familiar, welcoming environment.
There is a choice for mothers here. Some will be steadfast in their decision for a hospital or home birth. This is perhaps because of previous experience or potential risk factors. Others will decide to meet in the middle by inducing labor at home. Here they can work through the early stages and then transfer to the hospital at the last minute. But, there is another option in the form of the birthing center.
The alternative option here is to head to a Birthing Center
A birthing center should offer the ideal midway point between the two options above. These birth centers provide access to improved care, with medical support as needed, but in a much more homely environment. Mothers have described it as going to a midwife’s home to give birth. This option has gained popularity over the years. There has been a 58% increase in the number of births in birth centers since 2007. There are also now 313 of them is the US, with numbers sure to rise.
So what is it about these centers that are so appealing to mothers and their partners. The first is that sense of a relaxed, homely environment. Women can get comfortable and work through their labor in peace, with just the midwife and their partner present. It is much more of a shared experience this way, and more rewarding for all concerned.
Those comfortable environments include a large bed – with better sheets and cushioning than a delivery table – or a bath. Water births are popular because of the apparent benefits for both mother and baby. The water can ease the pain and pressure of labor and aid the transition of birth for the infant. These centers generally have high-end tubs with plenty of space, the right lighting, and even music systems.
The lighting and music are a key part of the experience. It is all about providing that calming environment at the right levels of peace and light.
Source: CHI Franciscan Health
Evaluating And Selecting The Environment
It can help to pay visits to a chosen center to familiarize yourself with the layout and features available. This allows for visualization of the birthing experience, which can ease any anxiety over the experience. Also, make sure to find one with the right accreditation from the American Association of Birth Centers. This organization has strict standards on everything provided by the center. This ranges from the scope of the service and equipment to the general health records and HR experience. Many of these top centers are close to major hospitals, so transfers and obstetricians are an option. Check to see just how close they really are and how easy that process would be.
It is also vital to really research your options and understand what you will get from a birthing center. Remember that there are hospitals that claim to have birth centers of their own. But, these areas are often little more than glorified delivery rooms. They don’t have the darker, private atmosphere of the real thing. Also be aware of a slight dispute between birth centers and hospitals over the best approaches.
There are many hospitals that will discredit the worth of a birth center, citing a lack of medical emergency care. They may do so without considering the health benefits for the right mother. Some say that this all comes down to cost. Hospitals make money out of births, with long hospital stays and complicated procedures always costing more. As women turn away from hospitals to birth centers, the hospital loses out on some revenue.
Financial Aspect Of Delivering A Baby
This leads to another interesting point about finances. It isn’t nice to talk about the costs and financing of this experience – not when mothers must focus on bringing new life into the world. Yet, there are financial benefits to turning to a birthing center. First of all, many mothers spend far less time in these units than in hospital because of the calm, anxiety-free labor and a great experience. This can reduce costs considerably. Then there is the lack of equipment and pain medication, both of which would find their way onto the final bill. These are pretty much guaranteed in the hospital with all the monitors, machines and painkillers offered to mothers. But, many women in birth centers can manage without them. Of course, this isn’t a sure thing. Every delivery is different and some women may need a transfer for medical intervention. Finally, there is the extra financial benefit that many centers are now covered by health insurance.
It all comes back around to those five needs for the perfect birthing environment.
Some parents to be will view the birthing center as the ideal compromise between the hospital experience and home birth. This comes down to more than the homely feel and better access to medical help. But, there are also those five factors highlighted above.
- Darkness comes at the mother’s request through LED lighting
- Quiet environments are the result of the design of the room, with the additional option of music.
- Warmth is possible through bedding, AC settings, and other user-focused controls
- Privacy comes from the fact that this is one birth per room with no interruptions
- Security is therefore achieved through the combination of these elements
Pick The Environment That Is Right For You
This solution caters to all five needs in a way that suits the preferences and changing needs of the mother and child. However, there may come a point in the pregnancy or delivery where plans need to change. The most important thing is the health and safety of the child and mother. Listen to the advice of medics working with you during your pregnancy. Obviously this birthing center approach isn’t for everyone. That is because there will be mothers at higher risk of complication, or those insistent on staying at home. But, it is worth considering if you have the luxury of choice over your ideal birthing environment.